The scouts camp was well hidden using the natural aspects of the forests thick density and magical hex's to make them near invisible. It was so good that had Marzhin not dispersed the magical field Chris would not have seen or suspected that anything lay where the tents where now.
"Welcome your majesty" the voice of his twin called out as the party of scouts approached them from the camp.
The scouts were a hundred in number, all armed to the teeth and awaiting the battle to come.
"Princess Joan, I hope all was well?" king Artorias asked her as he dismounted from his horse with Ishtar.
"Sister" Ishtar enveloped Joan into a hug and Chris couldn't help but chuckle as he watched his twin struggle against the metallic vice grip that was Ishtar's hug "I brought someone for you".
He advanced his horse towards them because it was clear who Ishtar meant to bring for Joan.
"Hey" he saluted his twin with a smile before he descended off the horse " Did you miss me".
"Finally awake sleeping beauty. How are you feeling, no jokes" Joan asked him with a hug.
"I am feeling a bit sore here and there, but it's nothing i can't handle. What about you. I heard that you took a nasty bump?" he remembered from Ishtar's story that Joan was hurt during the attack.
"Nothing major but a few cracked ribs" she answered him whilst taping her left ribcage area as if to prove the point that it was all right "A doctor fixed me up good".
"That's nice" he was happy that his sister was walking into battle at one hundred percent health "So that's it, the Artimes facility".
The structure still awed him in its strange and eldritch design, it seemed to alien than anything else "I have seen many crazy things in my life, but that Frankenstein patchwork is unlike anything i have ever seen".
"It's made out of hundreds of other Camelot's, that's why. It's 's magical defenses are what matter the most though, not it's manpower" Joan replied as she pointed at it " We have been scouting this thing high and low and i will tell you that it is almost impenetrable ".
"But you found a way in?" he asked her seeing a familiar spark in her eye's.
Joan was a great strategist in her own right, she could always find flaws in every defense or offense provided that she didn't lose her cool and here it was clear that like a shark she was smelling blood in the water.
"It's protected by a multi dimensional fields, meaning teleporting inside is next to impossible. The physical shield's are also extremely powerful and we could hit it all day with our Alpha-Spells before it begins to crack" Joan smiled almost smugly as she explained the challenge before she explained her solution " But i have discovered a thin gap in the fields... thin enough to allow us to teleport through undetected ".
"Since when did you become this good with quantum mechanics" he knew that Joan had studied under an apostle but the idea that she could find a gap in something as complex as multi dimensional fields seemed a little outlandish.
"I trained in divine power idiot it's a step up everything" she answered before sticking out her tongue like a child.
"How mature sister" he wasn't upset but pleased by the return to something normal but he had a nagging question that needed Joan's opinion. So with a deep and heavy breath, he let it out "What do think about the whole king Arthur thing?".
"I honestly don't know what to think" Joan sighed as she rubbed the bridge to her nose " I am a bit mad that she kept this from us but i am not sure how you tell your kids this of all things, so i will give her that".
"Hey, do you think that those stories she uses to tell us about king Arthur were hers because when i researched them on earth, sixty percent of them were made up and the others heavily abridged" he added "I mean if this place has every variation of king Arthur it only makes sense right?".
"Maybe, I have tried to speak to uncle Cai about it" Ishtar finally joined the conversation "but it feels too... ".
"Awkward?" Joan finished for her.
"Yes" Ishtar be nervously answered.
"Well we can ask her about the rest of our family history after we rescue her" Joan said though she wasn't focused on them but rather on the structure and Chris wondered if she was watching with her divine vision.
"We are going to get her back you know" Ishtar said looking at the structure as well and Chris could see a great determination in her eyes.
"I know" he could feel the sword strapped to his hip grow heavy as he thought about storming this place. It was both exciting and terrifying feeling as he thought "Nimue though, if everything Ishtar told me is accurate she could murder us on her own just fine. We need a distraction, a sort of way to keep her occupied as we free the captives".
"I have a plan" he could feel the wheels of thought turning in his head.
And right on schedule as he had predicted in his mind Mulengu and Ursa appeared by his side as if they had just been summoned by his declaration of a plan.
"What kind of plan?" Ursa ever the cautious one inquired.
"The insanely dangerous kind that might get us killed" well the plan was more likely to kill him but it would give them a chance.
"So the usual then" Mulengu stated a smile gracing his face while Ursa didn't bother to hide her grin.
"Wouldn't have it any other way, but first we need to find Cai. I want too more about Nimue".
Natalia Ddraig wasn't a stranger to being captured or held prisoner. It had happened multiple times during her reign as Arthur and her time as a knight of Avalon by oddly enough with a black pallet swapped version of herself.
So nothing about her current predicament caused her to panic in the slightest bit. She had spent whatever number of days she was here studying this cell looking to escape. That had unfortunately proved challenging by the many magical bindings that kept her in.
She had tried to use her magic to aid an escape before but this cell appeared designed to drain her of her power in a very slow and labours manner that had left her weaker than she should be.
She had gotten used to this imprisonments near complete isolation. This meant her ears easily picked the sound of a female voice whistling the familiar tune that would have fill the banquet halls of Gamalaot, the song of Arthur and the lake.
"Nimue, show yourself" she wasn't in the mood to play any of the water spirits games.
"Once and future king " the woman finally came into view as she stepped out of the shadows holding her blade Excalibur in hand like it belonged to her "Its been so long, old friend".
"We are are not friend's, traitor" Natalia answered with her teeth barred like a beast.
"But we used to be Artalia" Nimue looked at her with a pout " You were king amongst king's, with me the lady in the lake who granted you this sword".
Nimue was inspecting Excalibur with an almost obsessive interest "Speaking of Excalibur, you don't mind me asking but what exactly did you do to it, it is stronger, stranger. I can't read what it has become but it feels so divine, like it was crafted by hands of the transcendent ones?".
"Aren't you the swords maker, you figure it out" it wasn't Natalia's best taunting but she needed something to throw at Nimue since her fists couldn't work right now.
"Oh, i plan too" Nimue placed it back in its scabbard "Tell me, how has family life been to you and Roland?".
"It was fine until a certain watery tart came and brought a war to my home" Natalia was fighting to stop herself from racing to the cell bars and trying to strangle Nimue through them.
"Oh Artalia, you wound me" the watery tart in question on the other hand was most certainly enjoying this.
"Why are you doing this Nimue?".
Natalia remembered leaving Gamalaot in the great hands of Gwalchmei and the rest of the knights. She remembered that everyone even Nimue was happy so nothing of this behaviour from the water spirit was explainable to her.
"You see Artalia" she couldn't understand why Nimue still insisted on calling her by that name "After you abandoned the realm, i too decided to travel the greater Multiverse and see what wonders it held. I realized that for all its size and diversity the Nexus was small to what is out there".
"You got to leave the stinky damp lake for once, good for you" she answered as sarcastically as one possibly could with a slow clap.
"In my travels i came across many world's and do you know what they all had in common Artalia?" .
"They lacked annoying people like you?".
Natalia wasn't the sarcastic type of person, that was trait best left to her husband and children but for Nimue she would make an exception of taunting her at every turn.
"The years truly have changed you, or maybe it's perhaps the fact that you are quite literally half of what you used to be" those words cut into Natalia's skin like a sword.
It had always been a sore subject for Natalia. That she was only half a person, that she was just at best a copy that never matched the original. She knew that she was no better than a crappy consolation prize for those who lost the true Natalia.
A fake trying to pass itself as the real thing and that filled her with anger, an anger that called for her to kill Nimue, a dark rage that she remembered feeling only for her dark counterpart.
But she was a smart woman and had long learned to temper the darkness growing within her, for now she remained silent. Not granting Nimue the satisfaction of watching her break in anger or sulk in despair.
"Now, where was i my half friend? " the spirits taunting continued.
"Oh right... war and chaos. Each world was filled to brim with it and i thought, why must this continue. It was Gamalaot all over again with foolish infighting between you, Morgana, you're own knights and lot and all the other Arthur's. It was all the same petty childish nonsense just with different players".
Natalia could concede that to Nimue. While a vast majority of Camelot were as close to utopias as one could get, unfortunately war and infighting was a fact of life then.
"So i continued traveling until i came across a little world called Egnar. It was engulfed in a world war, a war many hundreds of years old. i joined one of the sides led a rather idealistic king and queen and with the old magic gifted to me by you're former king and queen i turned them into the most dominant faction in the war. But then i thought why must this war go on like this, the victor would most likely be a corrupt and foolish mortal, i could rule better but i would also be opposed and that would create strife. Strife would create war and the cycle would continue all over again".
Natalia was suspecting that the little world Nimue was talking about once housed the Lunar nation and the Ocean lords as it's inhabitants.
"But where to get such power alluded me, until i remembered the power this place held" Nimue dramatically raised her hands into the air and all Natalia could do at the moment was roll her eyes.
Even her most distance memories of Nimue, she never remembered the woman to be this needlessly melodramatic.
"Oh, don't be that way fake, you are caring about things someone else held a connection to. You never knew or experienced it, it's just in your copy head" Nimue spoke like she was speaking to a child with a false sympathy that stung.
"I will kill you with my bare hands" Natalia thought as a red rage burned within her.
"Do you know what happens when all the power of the Arthur's in condensed into one living entity?".
Natalia went wide eyed trying to imagine just how powerful such a being would be " That's why you have been attacking and capturing Camelots".
"I see you haven't lost the other half of your intelligence" Nimue was now smirking while Natalia's breathing became deep and heavy to release the stress building up.
"I unfortunately could not capture all the others Arthur's but knights and Merlin's all make up for it. And when i become the Archetype-king i shall fuse both the Nexus and Jord while i integrate my very being into the tapestry of the universe and become our little corner of creation and force the rules of reality to bring eternal peace" as she spoke Nimue raised her arms into the air as if she was speaking to a crowd that she expected to cheer her on.
Natalia didn't know just how much Nimue had thought through her plane because her plan had a major flaw "Nimue that's insane, even if you do succeed, forcefully smashing reality like that will have disastrous results. You could destroy Jord or the Nexus at worst and on average you will end up killing billions".
"Of course" Nimue didn't seem at all bothered by this in the slightest, instead she just shrugged her shoulders "A necessary sacrifice for world peace. You don't build something with tearing something else down".
"Is that what Gamalaot was as well !" Natalia demanded feeling some brief mana flair within her before it was repressed by the cell " A damn sacrifice for your god and messiah complex !".
"Gamalaot was my home you brat !" Nimue shockingly lost the cool collected mask and showed the snarling face of a beast.
This sudden turn confused Natalia. Did Nimue who destroyed so much, care for her home enough that that accusation was enough to send her off the door handle.
"Unlike you, i was born there, i never just took its blessings and abandoned it when I grew bored with it. All of us sought to bring peace before you stumbled in and took the true Arthur's place. But maybe that is a theme with you, a fake stealing the place of the original. Just as you stole the position of a daughter, a wife, a queen and a mother".
Any sorts of restraints that Natalia held vanished into a wave of anger that propelled her to punch the cell bars denting them while the confident expression returned to grace Nimue's features.
"Maybe today i shall show you some mercy, after i save the world. Your husband and children shall live on remembering you as what you truly are" Nimue leaned close to the cell bars " A coward, a fraud, a thief, a fake and hell maybe if i am truly generous i might follow in your foot steps and become their mommy, plus your husband isn't such a bad catch".
"When i get out of here, i shall skin you alive" Natalia had never felt such hate, such anger and such loathing for another in her life.
She could already picture her hands around Nimue's neck and she could feel the sensation of chocking the life out of the woman.
"Oh, i am sure that you will" Nimue's smile was now wide from ear to ear and Natalia could only describe it as sadistic.
This woman wasn't the Nimue that she remembered. She knew the kind and wise mentor who aided her in leading with a firm and caring hand. This woman on the other hand seemed to hate her with such a passion that it honestly scared her.
"What levels shall she truly drop to, in order to just hurt me?" The thought wasn't pretty, it reminded Natalia too much of her other half.
"No response" the smug expression on Nimue's face seemed to only increase " Then you have no objections. So tell me should the kids call me mommy or should that one only be reserved for Roland".
Another threat would have flown from Natalia's mouth had the alarms not blared loud like chickens attacked by a fox in the dead of night.
"What?" Nimue looked around in confusion also startled by the alarms.
The door leading to the cells exploded open sending flying hot piece's shrapnel every where like a shot gun bullet.
From the smoke where the door once stood a violet knight entered the room. Upon closer inspection from the armor to the helmet she knew that it was hers.
The knight lifted their visor showing a face that was much more welcome after spending time with Nimue.
"Hey, anybody order an escape and some good old fashioned freedom" her son called with a giant smile.
"Christian" she whispered as the feeling of relief from his arrival was replaced by fear for his safety because of Nimue's focused eyes that were digging holes into him.
They were like a predators sizing up its prey while thinking of ways to take down the future victim. In Nimue's case Natalia suspected she was thinking of all sort of brutal methods.
"That sword" Nimue had also noticed the sword her son had tucked into his scabbard.
Natalia knew that his sword was a lesser copy of her own but she had never once poured such amounts of light energy into it turning into something truly unique. And it left her with so many questions about what the hell had happened to him.
"Stay here Artalia" Nimue drew Excalibur from its scabbard again "I plan to add your spawns sword to my collection and maybe murder it on the way".
"Christian ran !" she shouted trying to warn the fool but he just lowered his visor before pulling his sword from its scabbard. He got into one of the many battle stances she recognised from Morigan.
"For once listen to me !" She shouted at him hopping that he would obey her word.
"I am not leaving this place without you" he answered before he attacked the lady of the lake.
And was soon getting stomped to the curb by her. His skill and technique was that befitting of an Avalonian knight and it filled Natalia with a swelling pride, that was immediately dashed by Nimue's brutal and far better physical attributes prevailed.
Nimue wasn't a skilled fighter, even less so than her son from how she fought in Natalia's opinion. But Nimue's greater speed and strength was enough to render the skill gap between them nearly obsolete.
She watched in horror as her son was rag dolled under the multiple strikes of Excalibur that constantly overpowered it's child sword Lucius-aurora in all the contest's of strength.
"Enough, Nimue !" she yelled, cursed and pulled at the cell bars with all her might but it was not enough to halt the lady of the lakes brutal beating of her son.
She could tell that Nimue was enjoying this by how she dragged out the fight with the sole intent of punishing her son with a slow agonizing death whilst her punishment was to watch this until it's bitter end.
It was agony to watch as Christian tried desperately to use every skill he knew to outfight his amateurish albeit physically superior opponent, but it was all dashed by Nimue's strength and speed.
Within minutes chunks of his armour were dented and his helmet was soon ripped off his head and exposing his hair which was in a wide disarray while he had a few bruises and scratches upon his face. His once fluid movements were now sluggish and less coordinated.
She watched him raise an Alpha-spell that took the form of a Lock made of blue flames to shield him but the power of Excalibur shattered that defense instantly and forced him to the floor one last time.
"Was that it?" Nimue mocked him with slight chuckle before she delivered a powerful stomp onto his head that echoed a sickening thud.
Natalia could barely keep the gasp of horror in her mouth as the sound that was more akin to something cracking or breaking flew into her ears.
All her son could do gasp for air and grasp his injured head as he lay defeated at Nimue's feet. Natalia knew that the beating plus his use of his defensive Alpha-spell that failed under the might of Excalibur was enough to drain him of energy.
"Was this the gallant knight who would come to rescue you?" the mocking grin on Nimue's face grew more and more " Oh Artalia, you've been a bad mother if this is the best your heirs could accomplish".
Chris in some sense of both bravery and stupidity started getting back up to his feet even though she kept shouting at him to stay down. He slowly got up, his knees wobbled a bit and some blood flowed from a cut above his left eye.
"You must the famed Nimue everyone was talking about" he was struggling to remain standing "Not as intimidating as i would have imagined".
" You have spirit... " Nimue backhanded him in the face hard enough for him to slam into Natalia's cell bars and leave a human dent in them "... I like that".
"Son please stay down" she pushed both of her hands through the bars and pinned him down to the best of her limited strength " I know that you can still fight and i am very proud of but please just stop this. I don't want to lose you".
"It's okay, it's okay" Chris kept whispering this mantra over and over again while he sank into the ground allowing his fatigue to lay him down.
"Will you look at that Artalia, you actually have maternal instincts" Nimue began approaching them "I guess you have more of the original than i thought".
"You win Nimue. I yield to you, just let my son live" she had never pleaded like this before in her life.
"Do hear that boy... or nephew... or future son. Do you truly love this thing?" Nimue spoke as her eyes became milky as did Chris.
"She is hypnotizing him" Natalia knew well of Nimue's hypnotic abilities, she had fallen prey to them once before.
But what truly made her blood go cold was Nimue's question. Did Christian truly love her even with their constant arguing and also with what her dark self did to him, did he even see her as his mother.
"My mom..." his answer was sluggish as a result of his addled mind " I have issues with her... but... but i love her. I know that she was right about everything and i hope that she can forgive me for being stupid".
Those words that should have been terrible and scaring were now bringers of joy that let her tears flow.
"That's so sickeningly sweet" Nimue gagged cutting the moment short.
"You shouldn't be so smug" Chris looked defiant in the face of the water spirit " Besides you have bigger problems than me".
Nimue's eyes lit up as if she had finally remembered that her enemy's son had just breached into the facility.
"I wonder what's taking them so damn long?" he had the best smile upon his face.
"This was a distraction?" Natalia couldn't believe that he took that beating for any reason apart from childish bravado.
The answer was the cell bars opening wide and leading the way to Natalia's freedom.
"I asked Cai about you, and he told me about how you tend get so caught up in a moment that you'd failed to notice anything else around you. And what better distraction than the son of your most hated enemy for you beat down before her" Chris grinned victoriously at her.
The plan was rather brilliant if not too risky and stupid but that didn't matter now. She slowly walked out of the box that had confined her and as she did she could feel the strength return to her like a jolt of electricity running across her nerve's.
"No" Nimue's disbelief was truly evident from how her eyes got comically large and how she began to sweat buckets.
"Oh yes old friend" Natalia raised her hand and Excalibur as if called by and invisible magnet flew from Nimue's hand and back into it's master's.
"That sword is mine" Nimue yelled in anger" I gave it to you, i hold ultimate authority over it!".
"Maybe you did once" she could feel the divine power in the sword that was similar to the heat created by a great fire burning in her chest " But in my time i have altered the sword of kings into the sword of divine judgement. It is no longer yours witch, but worry not for i shall use your corpse as it's scabbard soon enough".
To Be Continued.....
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I am a 21 year old law school student at the National Institute of Public Administration. My dream is to one day publish my story phantom ddriag and hopefully get a show made from it.
I also have a youtube account that hundels web fiction content, here is the link https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCFz-mHywXBJnLF8uyofcLAw/videos